FDA hopes to resolve US baby formula shortage in coming weeks

Supplies of baby formula became scarce after closure of Abbott Laboratories’ Sturgis, Michigan plant.

FDA hopes to resolve US baby formula shortage in coming weeks

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Thursday that it has made “tremendous” progress in resolving a shortage of specialty and infant formula products in the country. 

"It is our goal to ensure that hospitals, specialty pharmacies and retail store shelves will begin seeing adequate supplies again in the coming weeks," said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, according to a press release.

In February, leading baby formula producer Abbott Laboratories closed its Sturgis, Michigan plant and recalled multiple baby products following a federal investigation related to four infected infants, two of whom died.

Supplies of baby formula, which were already hit by production problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, became scarce after the closure of Abbott's facility.

Abbott rejected a connection between its brand and the infected infants but under a consent decree agreed to address insanitary conditions at its baby formula plant in Sturgis in order to reopen the facility.

"It is not objecting to the release of about 300,000 cans of EleCare amino acid-based infant formula previously produced at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility to individuals needing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of this specialty formula on a case-by-case basis,” said the FDA.

"These products will undergo enhanced microbiological testing before release."

Last week, a White House news release said the Biden administration would use a Cold War-era law to require suppliers to "direct needed resources to infant formula manufacturers before any other customer who may have ordered that good."

The FDA also said that some half million cans of specialized medical formula manufactured by French food group Danone’s Nutricia business will be headed to the US, and the country's health department is making efforts to acquire these products as soon as possible.